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Viewpoints

Intergenerational Housing for Seniors on College Campuses

March 17th, 2016 by

In a recent blog post, Baby Boomers Will Demand Choices in Their Retirement, my colleague Faith Nevins touched on some of the lifestyle needs and expectations of today’s retiring seniors. Many choices addressing those needs and expectations have arisen over the past decade, and values such as maintaining or enhancing personal health and fitness, participation in stimulating experiences, and the desire to contribute to the community in meaningful ways have become strong motivators influencing retirement choices.

Seniors with mobility are looking at both small towns — especially near metropolitan areas with convenience to airports, medical facilities, arts and culture, and recreation nearby — for their generally friendly and simple lifestyle, as well as larger urban centers responding to the allure of stimulating cultural life, shopping, good public transportation, and an exciting lifestyle that may have been deferred while their kids were growing up.

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The Importance of Affordable, Accessible Senior Housing

February 24th, 2016 by

Rents are soaring in this country, and during the last recession, there was an unprecedented growth in renters across all demographic groups. The combination of these factors is creating a “perfect storm” of housing unaffordability. On a recent “On Point” radio broadcast, Nela Richardson, the chief economist at real estate listing site Redfin, noted that in the last 10 years over nine million new renters have been added to the market. Rising rent costs mean that approximately 25 percent of renters are paying more than 50 percent of their income on rent, and many of these individuals are seniors. According to a recent study by HUD, 1.47 million elderly households are paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent. Why is this?

Typically, seniors’ incomes have remained flat while rents have increased at 3 percent annually in the last 10 years — the fastest growth rate in over 30 years. According to an August 2013 Long-Term Living article, one in three working Americans has no retirement savings other than Social Security and 35 percent over the age of 65 rely almost entirely on Social Security alone.

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Baby Boomers Will Demand Choices in Their Retirement

February 2nd, 2016 by

A new generation of seniors is approaching the age of retirement. The Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are now between 52 and 70 years of age and have a very different view of the world and of aging than the Silent Generation (those born from 1925 to 1945), who now make up the majority of residents in senior living communities. The Boomer generation is more educated, wealthy, racially and ethnically diverse, and individualistic. Boomers also vowed they would never grow old.

So how does the future senior facility accommodate their needs and desires? There are several factors that will affect when, where, and how the Boomers will live in their senior years.

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2015 in Review: The Year’s Best Blog Posts

January 8th, 2016 by

For our team at Marks, Thomas Architects, 2015 stood as another year of remarkable projects, informed by our clients, our collaborative problem-solving, and our vital respect for the history of our hometown of Baltimore. We explored new ways of visionary thinking through design, innovation, and community engagement.

We have highlighted some examples of themes, ideas, and projects that impacted us in 2015 through a selection of our notable blog posts below. Thank you for allowing us to share our thoughts and world views with you.
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The Nature of Baltimore: Baltimore’s Great Outdoors

December 15th, 2015 by

Maryland is rich in rural character with its vast forests, rolling farmlands, and access to the Chesapeake Bay. The state’s suburban areas are popular for their strong school systems and large yards, but it is Baltimore City that is particularly appealing to many of today’s prospective homebuyers — thanks in part to incentives such as the Homestead Tax Credit and recent cuts in property tax rates.

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Gender Disparity in the Business of Architecture: Why Do Women Leave?

November 19th, 2015 by

Toward the end of 2009, when the economy wasn’t showing any signs of recovery, especially within the building industry, I began investigating the Woman Business Enterprise programs. Initially I didn’t think it would be possible for such a long established firm as ours to become WBE-certified, but with our new ownership and new smaller size, Marks, Thomas Architects became a certified woman-owned small business enterprise in the state, city, and federal programs.

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How Designers Can Brand the Spaces They Create

November 12th, 2015 by

While different people have their own personal definitions of a brand, we all know an iconic brand when we see one — think Apple, Google, and Coca-Cola. Iconic brands can be worth millions, and there is no denying that successful branding will add to the profitability of all products associated with it. But what roles do architecture and interior design play in establishing brand identity, and how does that translate into the buildings and spaces we design?

The concept of branded environments is not new, but sometimes overlooked is that branding characteristics of an organization or community can be applied to three-dimensional environments. The use of branded environments can be a powerful tool for designers to help clients create office headquarters, flagship stores, achieve customer product or service recognition, or target a desired demographic of end-users.

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Why School Architects Need to Understand How Students Learn

November 4th, 2015 by

A strong correlation exists between the design of a facility and the achievement of the students who attend school there. Research clearly demonstrates the accuracy of this intuitive truth and shows that educational planners need to take every opportunity to enhance teaching and learning through purposeful design of school buildings and grounds. – Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI)

This statement from the CEFPI Guide for Educational Facility Planning emphasizes that as designers, we need to understand how the elements of the school buildings we design will affect student achievement.

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Waterfront Revitalization at Philadelphia’s Festival Pier

October 2nd, 2015 by

In 1682, Welcome, the boat of William Penn, skimmed the Delaware River as it embarked upon the land that Penn would eventually envision as Philadelphia. His dreams were grand, as he laid down the grid of the city in rectangular plots beginning at the Delaware River. This configuration put the face of the city at the water’s edge, welcoming the wealth of a maritime economy. As such, the city had its most valuable and coveted land along the river where trade and logistics of the colony’s inland activities like farming and manufacturing were open to the world.

From that historical onset, Philadelphia’s waterfront grew from the green, unadulterated haven it was pre-Penn to a hard and bustling industrial edge. The heart of the city grew inland, leaving the waterfront for industrial activities while recreation and luxurious living sprouted in the city center. It wasn’t until about 300 years later, after much of the industrial activities had subsided and their waterfront lots and docks lay abandoned, that Penn’s original vision for a lush and inhabited waterfront re-emerged to the forefront of the city’s mind.

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Creating Homes for the Homeless: Challenges and Solutions

September 23rd, 2015 by

Communities around the nation struggled during the recent Great Recession when people discovered they owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth. At the end of 2012, at least one in five homes had a mortgage that was upside-down, according to Core Logic. But the numbers improved significantly by the end of 2014, when one in ten homeowners owed more than their property was worth — and that’s the good news. The bad news is that the risks of home ownership drove many more people to start renting.

Consequently, the rent prices that have climbed steadily since 2000 continue to rise, and many renters now pay 30 to 50 percent of their income in rent. The National Alliance to End Homelessness in America reports that since 2007, the number of households with a severe housing cost burden (meaning more than 50 percent of their income goes toward housing) has increased 25 percent. Rising housing prices are taking such a toll, in fact, that in 2014, an estimated 40 percent of homeless individuals were families. Why is that the case?

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